I took my first newspaper job 39 years ago this week -- hired sight unseen by the city editor for the Sun Sentinel and now-defunct Fort Lauderdale News on the recommendation of a professor at The Ohio State University.
One of my first assignments was interviewing everybody in the Fort Lauderdale area who turned 100. It was a small fraction of my job. There were -- maybe -- one or two centenarians a month, even in this Florida retirement haven. Most of them weren't good candidates for interviews because they were in no condition to talk.
Today, turning 100 isn't news. There are three times more people 90 and older than there were 30 years ago with the number of nonagenarians reaching 1.9 million in 2010, along with 750,000 centenarians, according to a report on aging and retirement released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The chances that we'll live to be this old are increasing daily. The census report includes some information about this trend that is worth mulling as you do retirement planning.
If you're a woman, hang onto that hubby. There are 38 men for every 100 women ages 90 to 94, with the ratio dropping to 26 men for every 100 women ages 95 to 99 and 24 men for every 100 women 100 and older.
In 2006 to 2008, 53 percent of men 90 and older lived with friends or family members, about 30 percent lived alone, and only about 17 percent lived in a nursing home or other institution.
Women weren't quite so lucky. Some 31 percent of women in this age group lived with friends or family, 40 percent lived alone, and 27 percent lived in a nursing home or other institution.
The numbers suggest that money affects where the very old live. The annual median personal income for people 90 and older during 2006 to 2008 was $14,760 -- not very far above federal poverty level. If it weren't for Social Security, most older people would be in trouble. About 48 percent of the income of those 90 and older comes from Social Security, with 92 percent of those 90 and older receiving at least some money from the Social Security Administration.
People in this age group also received -- on average -- 18.3 percent of their income from retirement pensions. That's something that many of us who are retiring now won't be able to count on.
The census thinks that a person who lives to be 90 years old today will be around for at least another five years. And someone who turns 100 today is likely to live another 2.3 years.
So the bottom line is if you retire at 65, your retirement nest egg has to last at least another 30 years.